Student health oversight a priority

The Student Health Advisory Board is digging through hundreds of applications to fill six available seats on the board.

The Student Health Advisory Board is digging through hundreds of applications to fill six available seats on the board.

Graduate student Nick Walden Poublon said he and fellow student Tash Shatz, the other acting member of the board, will narrow the pile of applicants down to between 20 and 25 final candidates by Jan. 27.

‘A wide variety of students have applied and the board wants to make sure as many groups as possible can be represented,’ Walden Poublon said.

The seven-member board meets twice monthly and weighs in on health issues affecting the PSU community and Student Health and Counseling administration.

‘Our responsibility is to serve, essentially, as health ambassadors to larger PSU community,’ Walden Poublon said. ‘We make policy suggestions and share the views of PSU students at large.’

Last year’s members and nonvoting members will aid in the selection of new members. Nonvoting members offer only suggestions and guidance but former student members will be on hand to give their votes.

The open positions were announced in late November through the university webmail and several listservs. Walden Poublon said they were ‘astonished’ to receive 50 e-mail replies within an hour of the announcement.

In all, 250 to 300 emails were received in reply.

‘Not all of the e-mails were people wanting to apply. Some people wanted more information about the seats, others just wanted to thank us for doing our job,’ Walden Poublon said.

Walden Poublon and Shatz created SHAB two years ago when they learned that there was no student oversight of health services. Walden Poublon knows from personal experience that the insurance company PSU had prior to Aetna was ‘not very good.’ Filling prescriptions was an expensive task, because students had to pay up front and send in paperwork to be reimbursed, a process that could take months.

SHAB was the driving force behind the switch to Aetna, a move that brought students at PSU more coverage for less money, he said.

The vacancies this year are the result of some students graduating and of others leaving who do not feel they have the time to commit. As for the goals of the board for this year, Walden Poublon said that they will be determined by who is selected.

‘This is why we are looking for students who have a particular interest in the field of collegiate health,’ Walden Poublon said. Past students have had interests in nutrition, transgender health and health issues of international students.’

Walden Poublon has some goals that were agreed upon by the board last year, which include holding a series of open forums at which students can voice their concerns and learn about services offered by SHAC. Education is another goal the board considers important.

Waldon Poublon said that they want to educate students about the benefits of the Basic Plan that all students pay for as part of the Health Fee and ensure that they know enough to be able to benefit from this Basic Plan.

After spending two years looking at numbers and learning about insurance bids, SHAB is also in communication with Oregon State University and University of Oregon about the possibility of pooling the students at all three campuses to buy insurance as a group. This would lower insurance costs for all three schools.

SHAB made changes last year that allowed more people to be covered by the university health plan.

‘Last year’s board successfully added transgender health insurance to the Supplemental Plan for the first time, making us the first university in Oregon to do so and one of only a handful of universities to do so nationwide,’ Walden Poublon said.

No stranger to PSU or student issues, Walden Poublon received his bachelor’s degree in history in 2007, served as university affairs director for ASPSU and is in his second year as student affairs liaison to vice provost Jackie Balzer.

‘Nick’s work with our Student Affairs Division has been very valuable. His passion for student success and student development are inspiring,’ Balzer said.